Obama Supporters: a couple of questions

I lean Edwards, but will vote for the Democratic nominee.  Of the current field, Obama would be my second choice.  I’ve given money to Edwards, Obama, and Dodd.  I like Obama more than Hillary, less than Edwards at this point.

I don’t believe in candidate tear-down diaries (hell, I barely believe in diaries at all lately), but I have some concerns/fears about an Obama candidacy and really want to be convinced that my fears can be put aside. Especially in light of recent polling.

As you can probably guess, my concerns involve electability, especially as it relates to race, experience, and temperament.  I would like to have a constructive conversation on these issues in a political context, but on showing this diary to fellow Kossacks and Docudharmentarians, I’ve been told it will be interpreted as a hit piece.  That’s not my intention, but I can’t control how readers perceive my writing or slant. I also threw in some general campaign questions I have if anyone’s interested.

Here are my various concerns and I hope some constructive discussion evolves from them.

On a head to head basis, how do you think Obama measures up against various republican candidates (with regard to electability)?  For example, I don’t think the “Obama lacks foreign policy experience” attack has traction against Huckabee (although executive experience is another issue, perhaps).

Do you think his somewhat mild temperament will be a problem? (I see this as being a problem against Giuliani, but not Romney or Huckabee, if Americans default to the typical on the national security question. I also think, even though they’ve argued a bit and McCain and Obama are not dissimilar in temperament. Now that I think on it, George Bush has a fairly mild campaign temperament, so maybe it’s no worry).

Will America accept Michelle Obama, a strong black woman, as a first lady? (I don’t know, I don’t have a lot of faith in my fellow citizens on this one.) I don’t know how involved she’s been in Iowa and would like to hear about it.

I haven’t looked at head to head national race statistics recently and I know that Obama garnered a great mix of support from different political demographics in his senate race.  But he was essentially unopposed. Did Republicans vote for him or did they stay home? Seems to me that if

Republicans actually voted for him rather than stay home, that says something.

What’s you theory on how he’s pulled ahead of Clinton in Iowa? Superior organization/staff? The last debate series? Poor Clinton campaigning? This also begs a question about my favorite candidate to date, Edwards, i.e., why hasn’t he gained ground? (Sigh, it’s sort of rhetorical).

Do you think second choice voters in Iowa will go Edwards or Obama? Is any campaign doing county by county polling rather than statewide polling? Seems like the real numbers are county by county.

I have fears about Obama’s electability, but I recognize that in the last election, many bought into the idea that Kerry was the most electable of the field and in retrospect, I think we were wrong.

Anyway, these are my concerns and I’d like to be convinced that they won’t be a problem in the general election, so your thoughts and opinions are welcome.  

cross-posted at Daily Kos


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    • ksh01 on December 3, 2007 at 01:29

    Or give me some food for thought…

  1. …the “lacks foreign policy experience”, temperament, or Michelle Obama will be factors at all.  The factors likely to decide this election are much bigger and outside the control of the campaigns, primarily.  The fact that Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama can be so viable even to this point is a strong indicator of that.

    Clinton is falling for a simple reason: she peaked too early, and history shows that people nearly always tire of early front-runners.  Edwards has failed to catch on because the political kingmakers know that accepting public financing dooms him to failure, and this becomes a self-fullfilling prophecy.

    • oculus on December 3, 2007 at 01:52

    is an Iowa caucus voter.  She voted for Edwards last time and will again.  Her second choice is Obama.  She isn’t saying anything about Clinton, although my step mother doesn’t discuss policy as to any candidate.  I think she makes her decision on likeability; she likes Elizabeth Edwards a great deal.  Her daughter is voting for Clinton.  Son is a union steward and probably leaning Obama because son is UAW and that union has endorsed Obama.

    Having grown up (many years ago) in SE Iowa, I would not have predicted Obama would do well in Iowa, simply because there did not used to be many non-Caucasian minorities living in Iowa.  The differences were between Protestant and Catholic.  The demography of Iowa has changed greatly since then, however.    

  2. I’m still hoping for an Obama-Edwards or Edwards-Obama ticket, a dynamic duo from the new generation.  I think they’d be hard to beat.

    Polls aside, I worry more about Clinton’s electability when the knives come out in the general.  

    I, too, will vote for the nominee, but I’m hoping we look foward and not backward.

  3. So I’ll post it here. As my first comment! Glad to be a member of another community of amazing people!

    I’m going to answer all of you’re questions.

    The only Republican canidate who can claim “forign policy experience” is John McCain. But he has no chance and is borderline senile. Some polls show Obama as the strongest canidate against the Republicans but  at this point GE Polls don’t mean anything

    Americans like people like that. Who cares about Giuliani. He has no chance. Do you really think we are ready for a Sex On the City president? I don’t. The guy is unelectable and has no chance at becoming the nominee. Plus Obama can fight if he needs to, don’t worry about that.

    Michelle is probably way more popular then Barack. Salon did a great profile of her recently and I recommend you read it. She is so grounded and friendly that she wins over everyone, Democrats and especially Republicans. She’s strong but she also talks a lot about family on the campaign trail and she’s real. Go to http://www.barackobama.com/… and watch everything from Michelle. She’s a huge asset among progressives and among swing voters. Believe me.

    It says a lot. First of all even Republicans were scared crazy of Alan  Crazy but also they liked Obama. I saw a poll earlier in the year showing Obama with a 50 percent approval rating in Illinois, among Republicans! Here are some Republican for Obama related links:







    Why? Lots of reasons. The media has turned against her for one and is starting to look at her real record. Also on issues like Iran she has been coming down on the wrong side and Obama has been speaking out of them. He has a great team too and is doing the same thing as he did in his Senate race. Go everywhere and have a great team and then surge to victory at the end.

    You can’t really poll Iowa but it seems like Edwards and Obama are pretty much tied for second choices. Edwards has some great precinct captains but Hillary Clinton is by far the least popular Democrat in Iowa running for president so second choices could be anti-Hillary and if Obama is strong he could be the anti-Hillary. Chris Bowers has a great rundown of Iowa polling and why he thinks Obama is in the lead here:


    We are going to win no matter what. I don’t really think any of our candidates will be much different. Edwards will get the most rural voters and maybe some conservative ones. Clinton could get some women. But Obama will get youth, rural, Republican, old, moderate, independent, progressive everyone. And he will generate more exitement then anyone else. If you don’t have dedicated supporters you lose. That’s why the Democrats lost the 1994 elections. The activists felt sold out and so they didn’t help out.

    If you ever want any convincing I’ll be here. Over the next few days I’m going to be posting diary’s on why I support Obama and hopefully I can convince enough people that he’s the right guy. I’ve put everything in this campaign and the stakes are too high.

    But yeah. I hope I answered you’re questions and I don’t think this is a bad diary at all. I think we should all post our concerns if we are undecided.

  4. … but I’d like to draw attention to the ABC Radio National podcast of a Paul Krugman speech to the Commonwealth Club

    Paul Krugman, “Where is the Middle Class” (ABC Radio National Background Briefing, 25 November 2007)

    He poses the question of how the aggressive attack on the middle class could be sustained, despite the fundamental unpopularity of that as a policy goal:

    Key institutions of Movement Conservatism actually believe and try to do exactly that. So a fund-raising letter from the Heritage Foundation will say that ‘Never forget, connect the dots, our goal is to undo the New Deal and the Great Society’. In other words basically social security and Medicare, that these are alien, these are bad institutions. They want to roll this back.

    This kind of hardline right position seized the Republican nomination for Barry Goldwater, but then went down to terrible defeat, and when the Republicans did get the White House under Richard Nixon. Nixon was not – actually in many ways Dick Nixon governed as a Liberal. Nixon didn’t seem to have much of any ideology, except that he should be running things. But what Nixon did, what made it possible for this to change America was the ability to win elections. And so the question has to be if you have what is essentially an anti-populist, elitist, economic philosophy that has taken over one of America’s two great parties, during a time of rising inequality, how is it that this can win elections?

    And the answer actually is that it has never done so by running on the economic ideology. Economics is what it’s about. If you actually ask what does Heritage Foundation care about? What does management really want? It is about economics, it is about trying to roll things back.

    All right. When I looked in some detail at the political history, it turns out that although there’s a chapter entitled ‘Weapons of Mass Distraction’, it turns out that the core of it, although national security clearly swung the 2002 and 2004 elections, and actually the moral value stuff much less important. The enduring source of the ability of a Movement Conservatism to win elections has in fact not been that, it has been race. The centrality of race to the American political story was not something I expected to find when I began working on this book, but it just becomes overwhelmingly clear once you start to do the work.

    However, there is good news, and this is why Paul Krugman is optimistic that we may just be coming to an end of the dominance of American politics by this anti-popular economic program, gaining power on the back of racialist politics:

    The divisions that have been exploited so well, I think are losing their – more than I think, I think you can document that they are losing their effectiveness. Not gone, but losing their effectiveness. For one thing on race, we’re becoming a more diverse country. It’s quite simply the Latino and to some extent the Asian vote that are just transforming the demographics of the electorate in a way that means that you can’t play racial politics the way you used to. But there’s a more fundamental, I think a more uplifting reason. We’re just a better country. Racism is much diminished. I like to look at some of the hot button issue polls – they’re not really about politics in any direct sense, but give you a sense of how people think. So what do you think of inter-racial marriage? And in 1978, more than 50% of the public said No, it’s unacceptable, and 36% said it was OK. Today, 77% think it’s fine. So we’ve changed in that respect. I thought the defining moment of the 2006 campaign, the real tell-tale moment was the Macaca incident. George Allen actually a Californian yuppie, but reinvented himself as a Southern good-old-boy, burst into an obscure racial slur against a young American man of South Asian descent, who was trailing him with a video camera for the web campaign. The racial insult, that’s nothing new in American politics. What is new is that Americans won’t stand for it. Virginians won’t stand for it. We’re not that country any more. And so that’s a transformation in the kind of country we are which suggests that there’s a huge opening now for a big change in direction.

    Which is a long way around to what I have said with far more brevity about Senator Obama in the General Election in my home state, Ohio … the racist vote is locked up inside the Republican vote, and if there’s going to be any more coming out because Senator Obama is running, then with an honest Sec’y of State the increase in black and University turnout will certainly cancel it out, and probably more.

    So it comes down to the head-on-head as politicians.

    In Ohio, I’d reckon:

    • Guliani vs Obama … Obama slaughters him, Guiliani is too slimy
    • Thompson vs Obama … Obama slaughters him, Thompson is too lazy
    • Huckabee vs Obama … this one could be tight
    • McCain vs Obama … can’t say why exactly, but I think Obama would have this one.
    • Armando on December 3, 2007 at 02:36

    But I want to point out that I have written about Edwards’ disastrous tactical decision to become the lead attacker on Clinton while leacing Obama uscathed.

    Edwards is done.

    And Obama is more likely to be PResident TODAY than he has ever been.

    John Edwards had a lot, a whole to do with that.

  5. I have fears about Obama’s electability, but I recognize that in the last election, many bought into the idea that Kerry was the most electable of the field and in retrospect, I think we were wrong.

    Yeah, “we” were wrong.  I predicted that Vietnam would be his downfall just as Clinton was benefitted by not having been a veteran.  And I am seldom right about predictions.  Republicans BTW thought Kerry was the most electable candidate too.

    Looking back, can anyone possibly picture a worse candidate for election than Dick Nixon?  Dick Nixon won two landslide elections with a very ugly history.

    It is particularly pleasing to me that the phoniest of all candidates with an abundance of money and a photogenic family is sinking fast.  That is Mitt Romney.  Despite your claim that Giuliani has no chance to be nominated nor elected, I wouldn’t count him out just yet.  That he isn’t fit to be elected goes without saying but then neither was George Bush. Nor would I count out the “senile” John McCain.  That lame insult is specious.  

    Voters can be expected to be nearly always wrong in judging electability.

    Might be best to make a judgment on issues.

    And that is where Obama has a problem.  He is surely not the peace candidate.  His health plan is a mess.  He is poor on global warming and the environment for reasons I have enumerated far too often but then there are none that are really good IMO, including John Edwards.

    So why vote for the man?

    He is young.  He is the most intelligent of all the candidates.  He presents the face of change in more ways than one.

    In essence he is a rich man’s John Edwards.

    Best,  Terry

  6. Here are the aggregate polls from RCP:

    Obama +1.5 vs Giuliani

    Obama +10.2 vs Thompson

    Obama +13.0 vs Romney

    Obama +1.0 vs McCain

    • oculus on December 3, 2007 at 08:25


    Rich says Bill Clinton slipped badly by declaring he was against the Iraq war from the beginning; bad idea given Hillary’s vote to authorize; meanwhile Obama was against from the beginning and made a strong speech to that effect.

    Rich seems to be “leaning” toward Obama.

    But, why am I discussing this Frank Rich editorial?  This is the bread and butter of the blogosphere!

  7. Of the three, actually.

    Lots of people hate Hillary. Many think she is a phony.

    Lots of people think Edwards’ ideas are too far left. And too slick by half as well.

    I really believe Obama would have the best shot of winning the general of the three.

    But I also believe any of the three could win it all.

    So, support the one who most closely matches your own political ideals. For me, that person is not Obama.

    Still, if he wins, he will have my full support.

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